Radical Amazement

What's Lost When Faith Is Identified With Fundamentalism

“There is a strong vein of hostility against orthodox religious believers in America today, especially among the young,” David Brooks writes in a January 27 New York Times column. Young people describe the religious as judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, and out of touch. “It’s not surprising,” Brooks writes. “There is a yawning gap between the way many believers experience faith and the way that faith is presented to the world.” He offers a wonderful quotation from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal.... To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Brooks quotes Heschel on the oppressive forms of religion that replace faith with creed, worship with discipline, love with habit, and compassion with authority.

Brooks then offers the example of the Catholic songwriter Audrey Assad and her evolving faith. Brooks mentions Assad’s song “I Shall Not Want”  (video below; it’s worth a listen). She came from a fundamentalist Protestant family, became Baptist, then Presbyterian, then Catholic, and...

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About the Author

John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.